The main responsibility of the European Union agricultural policy is to protect consumer’s health in the agricultural and food chain at every stage of the food production process – from breeding to transportation, slaughtering, packing, and consumption. Its assumptions base on three key pillars:
- ensuring that food and provender are safe and have high nutrition values;
- ensuring high level of animal health and welfare and plant protection;
- ensuring detailed and transparent information about the origin, ingredients, labeling, and food preparation;
In order to meet these aims, the European poultry industry follows strict rules based on the requirements of the Common Agricultural Policy and other systems thereof that support the standardization of high quality and safety norms. One of the key elements allowing for a full transparency of the chain of production within the European Union is the compulsory system of the poultry identification and a constant control of the veterinary institutions which guarantee a proper level of animal supervision, from the moment of choosing the poultry breeds.
Standardisation of production processes relates, first and foremost, to poultry processing plants, but also to the rules of husbandry, feeding, or to the relating documentation. All plants on the territory of the EU that are related with the food industry are obliged to implement solutions among which the following are the most recognised ones: Good Manufacture Practice (GMP), Good Hygienic Practice (GHP), Sanitary Performance Standards (SPS), Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP), International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO). Additionally, in order to improve quality management and full safety assurance, producers use optional control systems, for example QAFP (Quality Assurance for Food Products). All those systems are based on comprehensive management of quality and safety, and of hygiene aspects, but also on supervision and constant control over the production chain. In the case of QAFP system the norms cover all stages of production, to start with breeding and animal feeding and husbandry conditions, through slaughter, meat cutting and boning, meat processing, transport, confectioning and packing, to end with storage and sales. Thanks to the system of interconnections between the activities that come one after another, risk of occurrence of potential consequences of unfavourable events in the whole production process is eliminated to a great extent.
Implementation of the systemic regulations directly translates into such elements of poultry farms as: sanitary and hygienic supervision at each stage of the production, delivery of proper husbandry conditions such as ventilation and lighting and proper plumbing systems, quality and purity of used raw materials and of components of ready products, or identification of potential food safety hazards, as well as control over quality and origin of raw materials.
The quality systems and the standards of production applicable in the European Union strengthened by the regular controls of the local veterinary authorities responsible for monitoring animal health guarantee full identification of every “farm to table” series of poultry in line with the transparency of the production systems followed by all the EU countries.
Apart from obeying rules concerning infrastructure, the poultry farm owners are obliged to take great care over animal welfare during the entire production process by obeying rigorous rules concerning their habitat, provender, slaughtering, and transportation. Each stage of the breeding takes place in clean environment in line with the EU norms which apply to:
- the prohibition of the addition of antibiotics, hormones, or growth stimulators to provender;
- humane animal treatment and guaranteeing proper breeding conditions, including providing fully nutritious provender and applying strict sanitary norms within the farm;
- optimization of the transportation time to a slaughterhouse which allows to reduce pre-slaughter stress
- constant control of the animal welfare and documenting every stage of breeding.
Moreover, a system of vacuum packaging and labeling the EU products guarantees that the consumers obtain high quality meat. As a results of using vacuum packaging and MAP technology, the meat has a limited contact with microbes and, therefore, its “best before” date prolongs without the addition of preservatives and its structure and aroma remain unchanged.
If meat needs to be transported at long distances, a proper freezing process guarantees freshness and culinary quality of meat. All the processes take place in the environment that minimizes the risk of a contact with bacteria and contaminants. Yet, the label placed on every pack of meat produced within the European Union provides a consumer with various information about the production process and conditions, and the veterinary controls. Only this product that has followed all these steps is offered for sale.
According to the European Union production standards, the consumers should always obtain a repetitive high quality product. Thanks to the standardization of the principles and the transparency of all the processes in the production process a consumer obtains production safety warranty and obtains full information about the meat’s origin.